Sliding Mechanism for Release of Superlight Objects from Micropatterned Adhesives

Abstract Robotic handling and transfer printing of micrometer-sized superlight objects is a crucial technology in industrial fabrication. In contrast to the precise gripping with micropatterned adhesives, the reliable release of superlight objects with negligible weight is a great challenge. Slanted deformable polymer microstructures, with typical pillar cross-section 150 µm × 50 µm, are introduced with various tilt angles that enable a reduction of adhesion by a switching ratio of up to 500. The experiments demonstrate that the release from a smooth surface involves sliding of the contact during compression and subsequent peeling of the object during retraction. The handling of a 0.5 mg perfluorinated polymer micro-object with high accuracy in repeated pick-and-place cycles is demonstrated. Based on beam theory, the forces and moments acting at the tip of the microstructure are analyzed. As a result, an expression for the pull-off force is proposed as a function of the sliding distance and a guide to an optimized design for these release structures is provided.